I’ve been pondering the subject of mortality for a while – nice thinking, eh? – and a few separate thoughts and interactions have now melded into some semblance of a blog post, so I figured I’d share them now.
Mortality is a common theme, in one sense or another, in my work; often perpetuated by a bereavement or relationship loss, when life and all it means can come vividly into focus. I started musing this a little more recently when I heard a BBC Radio 2 Pause for Thought, which I found so interesting I’ve shared it when appropriate in session. While I’m afraid I cannot recount the full reflection or the speaker, the basis of the story is of a Latin phrase on a clock front, which is about death and dying. The speaker, however, noted that the inscription came from a longer phrase about mortality, and a consideration that people live two lives: living their first life, and then when they recognise and accept the inevitability of their own mortality and death, experiencing a second phase of existence in which they truly live.
It’s quite paradoxical then that a fear of death can create self-restriction or risk aversion.
Existential Psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom, whose published case studies often have a focus on this theme, says in his book Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy: “As a general rule, the less one’s sense of life fulfilment, the greater one’s death anxiety”.
No one really wants to think about their own death, but I’m wondering now how many people really take the time to think about their life and really living it; milking each moment and becoming personally fulfilled so they have no need to venture down the road of regret. Going back to the Latin phrase on the clock, if we avoid the consideration of our own death, perhaps then we are avoiding the potential to start our second life in enough time to get the most out of it? I’m as guilty of this as the next person, and perhaps my musings are for myself and I’m hearing them louder now because of this?
You know, I think my bucket list could do with an overhaul…